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ECB Foreign Cruise

East Coast - 02 Sep 16 Cruising

Clutching their visa, inoculations up to date the Branch ventures south to the Thames and Medway

Jacqui-B (Gale Bryan) sailed early via Queenborough and St Katharine’s Dock. Regrettably no one to salute\wave on HMS PRESIDENT’s Jetty, but the boat set itself the task of ‘Thames barge spotting’ drawing on Bob Roberts' "Coasting Bargemaster(1949)". This book set the scene magnificently for the exercise, echoing rather rougher, tougher times - no engines, calamitous storms, dirty cargoes, unsympathetic dockers etc. etc. There was a rich harvest of 10 sightings. Jacqui-B got the hang of sorting the origins of barges into Essex (with bowsprit) or Kent (without bowsprit; maneuverability more important on the south bank of the Thames).

Queenborough with its historic naval connections has become a very attractive visit since it has been possible to get ashore easily from its relatively new (first come first served) pontoon. It has four jolly hostelries which were of particular interest to John Evans embarked in Jacqui-B, returning there after 70 years. His father, had been the Chaplain to the Minesweeping Trawler Squadron (HMS WILDFIRE) in 1945-46 and he had been christened in Queenborough in a ship’s bell! There was also mild speculation that his sister just might also have been named after one of the hostelries, the Queen Philippa (mother of the Black Prince)!

Tasman (Colin and Moira Trevelion) arrived in Queenborough on Friday and awaited the arrival of Successor (Jon Cooney) with a lively team from Sudbury aboard, arriving in time to be a splendid host boat for Pimms and then a Barbecue. Whilst the expected guests from the Medway were rather thin the team met up with two ex-Navy boat owners and a royal’s family joined us. We were also able to help a couple of Belgians and Ukrainians in the Thames for the first time. The dulcet tones of the RNSA East Coast Guitar and Flute ensemble (Appalling Sound) competed with a lively atmosphere in the Marina, until after midnight. But it was impossible to outdo Kentish stamina – the local Gin Palaces were still celebrating in the warm night air until three in the morning.

On Sunday a party of eight toured the Royal Dockyard in brilliant weather. The Rope Works, HMS CAVALIER, HMS OCELOT and HMS GANNET, together with the Boatshed allowed scope for endless dits and interaction with the lively guides, ladies who identified some interesting marine uses for their cable lay.

On a scorching Bank Holiday Monday Jacqui-B and Successor departed in company for Woolverstone, motor-sailing in light NW airs. However, by late afternoon an onshore breeze had been generated and an optimum turn of the tide swept the boats back up the Orwell - with a Thames Barge in full sail in hot pursuit.

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